This post was originally published on the SAIconnections’ blog page. You can read it here. 

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur, marketer and a brilliant teacher.

When I joined The Marketing Seminar (TMS), conducted by Seth, I thought I’d learn about marketing. Instead I learned about life. I chanced upon this manifesto he had written. Stop Selling Dreams.

It stopped me in my tracks.

“If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, he will find someone cheaper than you to do it. And yet our schools are churning out kids who are stuck looking for jobs where the boss tells them exactly what to do.”

Seth nailed it again with this one:

“The pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake.
We spend a fortune teaching trigonometry to kids who don’t understand it, won’t use it, and will spend no more of their lives studying math. We invest thousands of hours exposing millions of students to fiction and literature, but end up training most of them to never again read for fun (one study found that 58% of all Americans never read for pleasure after they graduate from school) As soon as we associate reading a book with taking a test, we’ve missed the point.”

And finally, Seth created 2 columns


Goal- setting


Or B



I smiled as I read that. It reminded me of another great teacher- Dr Steven Gutstein, Founder at RDIConnect.

While Seth Godin’s manifesto is a rant against the present day education system, Dr Gutstein talks about education for individuals (in general) and education for autistic individuals (in particular).

“Dynamic Intelligence refers to a collection of mental resources including self knowledge, mental habits, mindsets and mental tools that aid us to function effectively in complex dynamic environments. We apply Dynamic Intelligence when we seek to attain important but challenging personal goals and when we must cope with stressful situations, tackle tough tasks, make difficult decisions and solve perplexing problems – the critical pivot-points around which our success in life depends.”

Dr Gutstein talks about growth seeking individuals here. This mechanism needs to be built up for those on the spectrum, so they feel competent.

“In psychology, growth refers to a process individuals undergo as they develop into more mature, well-rounded, knowledgeable and complex human beings. As people grow they develop from simpler to more complex individuals able to deal with ambiguity, complex problems and morally and ethically challenging situations.

We believe, along with the vast majority of developmental theorists and researchers, that human beings are inherently Growth-Seeking creatures, programmed from birth to move towards greater complexity, integration and flexibility.”

And finally: the components of dynamic intelligence.

Contextual processing
Fuzzy thinking

Autistic or not, it’s immensely valuable for your child to think independently and to solve problems emerging in day to day life.

Related: Dynamic Intelligence in Autism Treatment

As parents or teachers, we can’t be there with them 24/7 to help them. But we can give them tools to think for themselves.

When I ask parents what they want for their autistic child, I get the following response (worded differently but the same in essence)

“I want my child to be happy. I want my child to be independent.”

The building blocks lie in the ability to understand situations and think for one self. Set up simple  activity frameworks to put your child on the spot.

Check out these video examples.

Note how mom let the child struggle with thinking through this one. She guided him and voiced how she would problem solve it.

Check out the next example too.

Note how the mother did not help the child, despite his discomfort. Instead she urged him to keep thinking.

In both cases, the children were not successful in the immediate framework itself.
But it was a workout for the brain.
Both children eventually learned to solve the problem- in the next couple of days.

Another important tenet to keep in mind is, we don’t want children to just solve the ‘present’ problem, but we want to give them tools to solve any problem.

It doesn’t matter if the child was successful immediately. It’s important that time was given to think and grapple with the problem.

Punch list

1. Slow down: Have patience
2. Don’t instruct: Demonstrate
3. Don’t prompt: Let your child struggle
4. Focus on actions: Not words
5. It’s about the process: Not the product

Dear Parent, I would like to share an assignment I assign to every family I work with. Once a day, put your child in a situation where he or she has to think deeply to problem solve. This may last 10-15 minutes. Think of it as an investment that will yield rich dividends in the future.

Now, imagine yourself lying on your back on soft, green grass, looking at the stars. You’re totally fulfilled and contented- because your child is independent and happy.

If you really want that state of life, stand up for your child and fight to help him or her think and solve problems. Learn to take a long term perspective. Step out of your comfort zone. Today.

You’re not alone- I’m with you.


RDI Certified Consultant Kamini Lackani IndiaLakhani is a, RDI® program consultant and the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center). She has over 19 years of experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and currently serves as the director of our RDI Professional Training Center in Mumbai. She is the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center).

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